Video Games and Fiction Reading – It's A Whole Other World

At the printculture blog there’s an interesting article about folks dropping out of real life to spend time playing an online game EverQuest. One person says, “When EverQuest was more fun than your life, you played EverQuest; when your life became more fun than EverQuest, you quit the game.” In the post that turned me on to this, Chris Yeh says:

He makes the very good point that there are three reasons why people prefer the virtual world to the real world:

1. Increased effort inevitably produces increased rewards. Contrast this to real life, where success can seem unattainable and arbitrary.

2. True equality of opportunity and possibilities for accomplishment and advancement.

3. The people you meet all have something in common–they’ve chosen to play the game–and it’s far easier to avoid jerks.

I think people who are really into fiction books may fall in the same neighborhood. Last August I posted about “reading as life’s grand second chance”. The article I quote says, “Yet for many people, the process of socialization doesn’t quite work. The values they acquire from all the well-meaning authorities don’t fit them. And it is these people who often become obsessed readers. They don’t read for information, and they don’t read for beautiful escape. No, they read to remake themselves. They read to be socialized again, not into the ways of their city or village this time but into another world with different values.”

So – maybe this is why I don’t like video/computer games and don’t like fiction books. Real life has been good to me and so long as my good fortune continues I’m perfectly content playing in it!

2 Responses to Video Games and Fiction Reading – It's A Whole Other World

  1. Chris Yeh says:

    Ben,

    You’re pretty fortunate in having realized your ability to affect the world around you at so young an age.

    Of course, even for you, real life has plenty of drawbacks, as our previous discussions of the arbitrary nature of our educational system indicate.

    –Chris

  2. Cathy says:

    Interesting topic Ben.

    As a former online game addict, I will add a few reasons why I think that the virtual world can become so compelling.
    1) If you choose, everyone can look like a supermodel. Thus removing “first impressions” based upon looks. It’s all about how you act.
    2) For some reason, even for the ultra-introverted, it’s easy to say “hi, want to go on a quest with me?” to a complete and utter stranger in game. In real life, the ultra-introvert would never say “hi, want to grab coffee?” to a complete stranger.
    3)Most games let you “squelch” the annoying individuals. I really wish we had that ability in real life.

    As to your comments on fiction reading…as a former fiction junky, some of your thoughts are right on. For me, I tend to like fiction books that have worlds where the individuals act in a way that I wish individuals acted in real life. As to socialization, be afraid, many of my morals came from reading Robert Heinlein as a teenager.

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